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MPs Warn Stretched Budgets Could Put New Defence Equipment At Risk

Back in 2015, the Government pledged to spend £178 billion over the next ten years on defence equipment and support...

There are serious doubts regarding the affordability of the Ministry of Defence’s equipment plan, according to a report published by the Defence Committee.

The plan, which includes the design, build and purchase of ships, aircraft and vehicles, depends on a presumed £7.3 billion in “efficiency savings”.

However, these savings have yet to be achieved.

Back in 2015, the Government pledged to spend £178 billion over the next ten years on defence equipment and support.

This included eight new Type 26 Global Combat ships and nine Boeing P-8A Maritime Patrol aircraft.

Boeing P8 Poseidon
Boeing P-8A Maritime Patrol aircraft. Picture courtesy of Boeing

However, the committee expressed concerns that the MOD has struggled to make such savings in the past.

Committee chairman, Dr Julian Lewis MP, said:

“It is extremely doubtful that the MoD can generate even more efficiencies from within its already stretched budget on the scale required to deliver its equipment plan.

"This will inevitably lead either to a reduction in the numbers of ships, aircraft and vehicles or to even greater delays in their acquisition.”

The Committee also made calls for greater clarity about the difference between genuine improvements and efficiency, and cuts in personnel, equipment and capability.

The report also calls for an emphasis on the importance of sustained production in UK defence manufacturing.

They say that this is necessary “in order to maintain a successful and high-skilled workforce and to preserve our sovereign defence manufacturing capabilities.”

The committee also encouraged the MOD to increase investment in research and development, spending at least 2% of their budget on science and technology.

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